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5th Jun 2023
University exams can be intimidating. With the pressure to do well in your degree mounting, it can feel like there just isn't enough time in the day to learn everything. Using the right revision techniques can help to make the process more manageable. And no, the best revision techniques for university do not involve last-minute cramming sessions or googling how to develop a photographic memory overnight. Sorry!
Even the best revision techniques for university won't be as effective if you don't have these three things: an organised revision plan, a solid understanding of your course requirements, and an idea of how you work best. Let's break those three elements down further.
To avoid any last minute panic, start your revision as early as possible, at least a few weeks before the start of your exams. Creating a revision timetable will help to keep you on track and ensure that you are covering all the material you need. It might be helpful to display it somewhere you see everyday, like your wall or in a calendar on your phone.
To revise most effectively, you need to understand how you are going to be assessed and how much content you need to cover for each exam. This will help you plan your approach. If your exam is essay-based, you may not need to cover the whole syllabus. Instead, revising a few topics in more detail might be more helpful. On the other hand, if your exam is made up of short-answer questions, you will probably need to understand all the material covered in the module. Your particular exam requirements will be specific to your university, your modules, and your lecturer. Speak to your lecturers to find out more details about your assessments.
The best revision techniques for university students will differ depending on the individual. Everyone has different ways of learning and digesting information. You'll need to employ some trial and error to find what works best for you. Below, we've outlined our top five revision strategies and techniques to give you some inspiration.
All of the best revision techniques for university are active forms of revision. Unlike passive forms of revision, like reading and highlighting your notes, active revision techniques require you to engage with the information you are learning. This helps to improve your recall of material, rather than just your recognition of it.
Creating flashcards help you to summarise information into smaller bites. They are useful for condensing notes about a specific topic, testing definitions, or creating practice questions. Ensure that you are testing yourself using your flashcards rather than just reading them. This encourages the active recall of information. A great way to do this is to write a question on one side of the flashcard and the answer on the other.
Blurting is an increasingly popular revision technique, also referred to as a memory dump. Read over your notes and then write down everything you can remember about the topic on a piece of paper. Then return to your notes and see if there was anything you missed and add this information to your paper. It can help to do this step in a different colour so you can clearly see what you missed. The use of colour makes these notes more visually appealing and helps the missing information stick more easily. You can then repeat this as many times as you need. This technique is effective as it helps you to condense information into key points and clearly highlights which areas you need to focus on more.
If you've watched any 'Studytubers' in the last few years, we're sure that you've heard of the Pomodoro technique. The Pomodoro technique is a time management system, centred around the idea that it is easier to focus for shorter periods of time. Choose a single task to work on or a subject to study and focus only on that for twenty five minutes. At the end of that time period, take a five-minute break. Then repeat this three more times. After that you can take a longer break for thirty minutes. The Pomodoro technique helps you to focus by instilling a sense of urgency in you. The idea is that when you know you only have twenty five minutes to achieve a task, you will be more motivated to get the job done.
Being able to explain a topic to someone else demonstrates that you have digested the material and understand it in enough detail. It's also a good way to highlight what you don't yet understand. If you can't teach it to someone else, then you probably won't be able to write it down in the exam either. This technique is a great way to study with friends and coursemates. You get to test your knowledge and they might even learn something new too. Win-win!
Having a go at practice papers or example exam questions is the best way to prepare for your specific exam format. You should try and complete these within the time you will have in the actual exam, to make the experience as realistic as possible. This is the perfect way to test yourself, track your progress and gain a deeper understanding of the mark scheme. If you have an essay-based exam, you can also use past papers to plan essays and use these notes to revise further.
Exam season can be overwhelming, but you're never alone. Ultimately, the best revision techniques for university are those that suit you. Remember to stay calm, plan ahead, and do your best. If you're struggling with stress or anxiety this exam season, take a look at our article on managing your mental health during exams for practical advice and support.
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